“The Cannibal Variations – IV: Domestic Tranquility” / A Memorable Fancy #421

[The future: there’s not much left to eat but people.]      There were arguments, in the early days, as to what stock-breeding should aim at. Some argued that health and vigor were paramount, to ensure the hardiness of the herd. Some said docility. Others, that transportability, i.e., the ability to move large numbers of hubes in boxcars without noticeable damage to their flesh and more days in transit before rotting, were most important in reducing transportation costs. But eventually there … [Read more...]

“from the Aztec Sacrifice Training Manual, year 1518” / A Memorable Fancy #420

     If you didn’t cut it clean, keep the pace. Feel the black obsidian blade lift your arm again.      Without a hint of hurry say the sacrificial words, but to yourself this time.      Some have the heart a little to the right; some have it bound more tightly in; some have small dark veins to snap before the heart comes free.      Move the blade strongly and simply, without shaking or jerking your head or hands.      If the drug was too weak, if she comes to in fright and rises up … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – XI” / A Memorable Fancy #419

  The dead language revives. Where are the things it has words for?   #   When a man died in archaic Greece, his wife was compelled to spend one night with the body, to ease its passage to the next world. Many of these women remembered, for the rest of their lives, their marriage to a stern, unbending, silent and truculent corpse.   #   The sun god forsakes his subjects every sundown, leaving a more tolerant god in charge of our doings in the … [Read more...]

“The Re-Enactment” / A Memorable Fancy #418

[“...re-enactments. With actors recreating the postures, sounds, and ensuing mayhem ...” – Pil & Galia Kollectiv]      The producer wishes to re-enact the famous play where there was a riot, with many injured and a few dead.      “How realistic do you want this to be?” the director asks. “If we advertise it as a re-enactment, then ticket-holders will know that some of them, at least, may die. The original production wasn’t that way, of course; the catastrophe was a complete surprise. … [Read more...]

“The Cannibal Variations III – Factory Farms” / A Memorable Fancy #417

[The future: there’s not much left to eat but people.]      The “volunteers,” as they were called, were marketed as free-range hube-meat although most had come from inner cities or pockets of poverty in the hinterland, and neither type could really be considered free-range. Arthur Leben contemplated this, the toughness of their meat, and the danger of disease or ingestion of second-hand narcotics. He made a decision: he would establish a hube factory-farm, where the future meat could live … [Read more...]

“Monotheists on Holiday” / A Memorable Fancy #416

     Make a plan, what to do, where to stay and when. Who’s got HBO, heated pool, CNN? Count the hours, see the sights –      But next time …      Follow the wind; sleep where night finds you; trust in the gods you wish there were.      Flip a coin, still end over end walk away. <END> If you liked this post, please tell your friends and share a comment in StumbleUpon. Subscriptions to A Memorable Fancy are available on Amazon. (www.bit.ly/Fancies), or just Follow this … [Read more...]

“The Game” / A Memorable Fancy #415

     The rules of the game are lengthy, detailed, and often obscure or nonsensical, but the players are instructed to follow them to the letter. There is a catch, however: a certain amount of cheating is not only tolerated, but accepted; not only accepted, but required. No one knows how much cheating is needed to win, and how much additional cheating condemns one to not being liked, not being promoted.      This game is often simply called “business.” <END> If you liked this post, … [Read more...]

“The Cannibal Variations II – The Gourmet of Souls” / A Memorable Fancy #414

[The future: there’s not much left to eat but people.]      The gourmet of souls devours each of the dead while the soul is still fresh, while it still remembers love and struggle and final calamity. Then the eater glows with repast, is satiated until the next body is delivered, steaming fresh and just about to realize that it is dead, that fleeting instant when its meat has the most exquisite savor. As our bodies are sliced and diced and pass through this delightful digestive process, we are … [Read more...]

“Dream-Sin” / A Memorable Fancy #413

[-- Michel Foucault, Mental Health and Psychology, p.xxxv quoting a confessional manual: “Examine even unto your dreams, to know if, once awakened, you did not give them your consent.”]        “Forgive me, Father, I have sinned in my dreams, done wicked things in my dreams, with my body and with other people’s bodies too.      “Did I consent to these dreams? Now how could I…?      “Well, perhaps, yes, Father, I suppose my unconscious must have wanted to dream about – these … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – X” / A Memorable Fancy #412

Preparing his closing address to the jury, the defense attorney is having problems with his spell-check program. It keeps changing “accident” to “murder,” and “innocent” to “guilty.” # There is machine karma – you didn’t think they’d be exempt, did you? Dead machines have another life as a different kind of machine. Wicked ones come back as garbage disposals or cat-litter-box scoops. # My search is for someone worthy of being followed. Someone who will respect me, might even turn … [Read more...]

“The Cannibal Variations I – ‘Rights'” / A Memorable Fancy #411

[Beginning a new series …] “Next thing, they'll be breeding us like cattle for food.” – Soylent Green      The year 2038: Water wars, loss of ice-caps, demise of the ocean-current circulator system, drought … Even though the environmental crisis deepened, people kept breeding: eight million, nine, ten, ... The first mammals to go were cattle and sheep – they took up too much space, farted too much methane, ate too much grain. And then the grain was gone, too. The only protein we had too … [Read more...]

“Trees” / A Memorable Fancy #410

[“We stand outside the wall of Eden and hear the trees talking together within, and their talk is sweet in our ears.” – Yeats]      Pear:  How did that damn apple tree, you know, the one that got all that publicity in the book about Adam and Eve; how did it wangle that? The people don’t come here to the Garden to see and admire me anymore. My boughs are heavy with rotting fruit, while the apple has been picked nearly bare.      Peach:  It was something about good and evil. The people … [Read more...]

“Getting Into Art” / A Memorable Fancy #409

[“... the initiative launched by new museums where the aim is not to stand in front of the pictures, but stand in the pictures – in the virtual reality of Déjeuner sur l’herbe, for example – which they can in this way enjoy in real time, possibly even interacting with the work and the figures in it.” –Jean Baudrillard] The public was invited to visit with the people in Manet’s famous painting. At first, one heard only standard recordings as in a wax museum, but then the technology improved … [Read more...]

“The King Sups” / A Memorable Fancy #408

     The ancient manuscript was finally translated. It contained directions on how to flavor roast oxen for the great king’s supper one evening, which turned out to be his last. Paleographers were disappointed in the subject matter, but it was an old and valuable parchment nonetheless, definitely museum-quality.      In addition, it was curious in containing a number of partially obliterated words and phrases. These had been skipped in the first quick translation effort, but now museum … [Read more...]

“Come Out and Play!” / A Memorable Fancy #407

     Come out and play! We’ll put on nice new clothes and all look alike, and the other fellows will put on nice new clothes and all look alike – but we won’t look too much like those other fellows.      Come out and play! We’ll have toys of real wood and steel, hard and sharp in our hands. We’ll have toys that fly with us, and toys that fly from us, all very fast and make a lot of noise – the other fellows will have their toys, too.      Come out and play! We’ll put on our nice new … [Read more...]

“Babylon Taxi” / A Memorable Fancy #406

“Welcome to our country, sir! Did you have a good flight? – OK aside from that? – I am sorry to hear that, sir, some things happen even here. But now I show you a few interesting things as we come into the capital. “Right over there now, see? The river. Between those two warehouses if you look quick. There are some interesting boat trips. You can sign up at your hotel. No floods this time of year, so the boat will be safe. “Oh, the Tower? You wouldn’t be interested in that. Nobody goes to … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – IX” / A Memorable Fancy #405

“You’re all puppets!” the street-corner speaker ranted. “You’re slaves of liberalism!” Bystanders shook their heads and conferred among themselves. Should this be “persons who are puppets,” or “persons with puppetism?”, or what? The speaker took advantage of this distraction: the strings of the bystanders were once again jerked. # Life isn’t like the brochure said it would be. I want my mommy back. # Are they all robots? He cuts one up to see, realizes that a robot need not be gears … [Read more...]

“ ‘Why is there something, rather than nothing?’ ” / A Memorable Fancy #404

Robert Morgan saw seven new titles in the university library on that subject, and 15 older ones as well. Having just been laid off as Assistant Professor of Physics he had time to look through all of them; and so he did. After a month of head-spinning study, having found nothing like a satisfactory answer, it occurred to Robert that the question itself must somehow be wrong: irrelevant, meaningless, or an answer would already have been found. The question “Why is there something, rather … [Read more...]

“On the Street” / A Memorable Fancy #403

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Certainly I wore torn old clothes when I went on a rant. Before I was put here, that was. “Shoes and shirts must be worn,” and mine were about as worn as anybody’s. Certainly I bathed not too often. This gave me a sort of license, you know, the clothes and the smell, and the remarkable fact of being female. What if I were to stand in the middle of Charles Street in a clean, pressed pants … [Read more...]

“The Pollster – III” / A Memorable Fancy #402

After a time, everyone will become so annoyed with pollsters that everyone will lie. This is not to deceive, but to render pollsters useless so that we can get on with our lives. But, as everyone will lie to the pollster, every truth can be known by changing “yes” to “no” and “no” to “yes,” or “Smith” to “Jones” and “Jones” to “Smith.”      More and more people, however, will begin telling the truth once more, in order to utterly confound the pollsters. After a time, however, … [Read more...]

“Bombay Palace Restaurant (Formerly Joe’s Cafe) Staunton, Virginia” / A Memorable Fancy #401

     Formerly Joe owned this place. Formerly Joe cooked up chicken-fried steak hot beef sandwich potatoes and gravy two vegetables (your choice, but always carrots and peas), hard-perked coffee, two eggs any style they felt like serving,      and Edna waited table.      Formerly Joe knew all of us here in town, and we all came in one time or another, sat around and talked, ate up paid and left.      Joe’s place was always there; we never thought about it much, even when we were there. … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XX: Pieces” / A Memorable Fancy #400

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Doctor takes our minds apart piece by piece, disassembles them, lays them out like mice ripped apart by a cat. Sometimes we talk about it, a kind of conversational terrorism. Here’s a piece of me:      “Do you know why you’re here?” he asks.      “I’m crazy.”      “Well, saying that is just avoidance, you know, Diane. ‘Crazy’ is just a word. It’s not acknowledging what you … [Read more...]

“The Mountain” / A Memorable Fancy #399

Again there was thunder and lightning in the mountain, and trumpets, and smoke there, and fire. Again Moses came down from the mountain carrying the tables of the Law, came a second time to Aaron and the people. They swore, the people, this time, to take the Law into their selves, their bodies, and live in the grasp and clutch of God forever.      Moses set up the tables of the Law in the midst of his people, so they might read what the god had commanded. Each one read with eyes and fingers … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – VIII” / A Memorable Fancy #398

Larry is convinced he’s living in the future. Everything here is strange, confusing, unexplained, he tells people. He wonders what happened between his time and now. Why are there so few people? Why is there no rain?# Your life membership has expired. The plastic-card destroyer is knocking on your door with the butt of his scythe.#We’re free to do one thing only – the rest is given. We will always consider it our worst mistake. But it was our greatest achievement.# A god may possess you, or two … [Read more...]

“The Room Where Someone Died” / A Memorable Fancy #397

     A few months after he bought the house, in casual neighborhood conversation Alfred discovered that a woman named Emily Hartness had died in that very house a few years before. A natural death, they said, but still Alfred was bothered. He lay awake that night, wondering if old Mrs. Hartness had died in that very bedroom. Well probably, he thought; it was the master bedroom, after all.      He couldn’t sleep, moved to the living-room couch. But he couldn’t sleep there, either; suppose she … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XIX: “’Who’s Real?’” / A Memorable Fancy #396

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      I pride myself on being Doctor’s special project. “A tough case,” I once overheard him saying. On Mondays I have him for individual counseling. Today is Monday.      “How is Sugar Odette these days?” he asks.      “Fine, Doctor. She can’t wait to hear what I’ll have to say about today’s session.”      “And what will you tell her?”      “I don’t know, Doctor; we haven’t had the … [Read more...]

“Innocent” / A Memorable Fancy #395

    “It was an accident, officer.” That’s what I told them. “It was an accident that he died. You have to believe me; I’m innocent.”      I wait in my room for them to come back, to arrest me, to tell me it couldn’t possibly have been an accident, now that their experts have examined the body, now that the weapon has been found, and the threatening emails, and so on.      But they never come. Week after week they never come. I can’t stop staring at the door. <END> If you liked … [Read more...]

“Higher Office” / A Memorable Fancy #394

        Tronn joins the crowd for the evening’s dismemberment, but without much interest because he’s gone several times before, and tonight’s honoree is undistinguished. Last week it was a vice-mayor, the week before that a general of the unsuccessful war. Every three or four evenings, no one can figure out why a particular victim is selected. Who will the next one be? There are odds-makers. The whole process seems to make little sense to Tronn except as cheap entertainment for the masses, but … [Read more...]

“Wittgenstein Counts His Toes” / A Memorable Fancy #392

[“What reason have I, now, when I cannot see my toes, to assume that I have five toes on each foot?” – Wittgenstein]      One morning while putting on my shoes I happened to look at my feet, and noticed that I had only four toes on each foot. When did that happen? It could have been days ago, and I just now noticed. Whatever happened, why hadn’t it hurt?      I remark on my lack to others. They look at me strangely. One says, “Were you born with an extra toe? Those can be removed … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – VII” / A Memorable Fancy #391

[Neuroscientists find a way to record dreams as the dreamer experienced them.] In the debate, the candidate was challenged to release her dreams to the press. Blushing and stammering, she refused. Her polls immediately went up five points. # Commissioner Hills laughed, said “sure you can broadcast my dreams,” not remembering the one where … # “My opponent dreamed of robbing a bank; can you imagine? Surely you don’t want that man as our Mayor!” # What if your dream is … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XVII: Bedtime at the Asylum” / A Memorable Fancy #389

  [Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]   “What are your dreams, Diane?” Sugar Odette asks me. “On most nights, I dream that monsters are chasing me.” “No, I mean your hopes for the future. When they let you out of here.” “I hope they don’t catch me.” “Who?” “The monsters.” # Sugar gives me a hug and a kiss because she’s annoyed that I’m not taking her question seriously. Then she turns over and … [Read more...]

“The Game I Always Win” / A Memorable Fancy #388

[“I could lose, but I always win.” – ‘M,’ in Last Year at Marienbad]      In the sequel, M has invented a new game for four to six players. Each secretly chooses a number from 1 to 10. Whoever has chosen the highest number that no one else has also chosen, wins. A man called X gallantly plays but always loses. M always wins. A, the ravishing femme, this time leaves with M, having always liked the idea of being with a winner. Perhaps he will reveal the winning strategy to her; then she can be … [Read more...]

“Prediction” / A Memorable Fancy #387

     Tronn returns home from seeing a play. He takes off his shoes and creeps up the stairs in his stocking feet. There is a voice: “How was the play?” Tronn answers, “There is a scene where the male lead takes off his shoes and creeps upstairs in his stocking feet. Then a voice calls out: ‘How was the play?’ The actor replies ‘dull and predictable.’” Tronn realizes that the play was dull and predictable, too. As is his life. <END> If you liked this post, please tell your friends. … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XVI: Introducing Sugar Odette” / A Memorable Fancy #386

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Sugar Odette is my particular friend. The hospital, not being able to enforce the absolute celibacy they’d like to see (which would however drive us totally nuts, thus justifying the hospital’s existence) acknowledges such relationships in a way that doesn’t commit them to admitting to the Board that any fornication is actually being accomplished. We have this ceremony in the day room, … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – VI” / Memorable Fancies #385

Out of pity, we discard our wornout memories where we know the poor will find them, perhaps at least once remember food, laughter, warmth. # In the land of Oobla-Da, even before one opens one’s mouth the other nods, smiles; or shakes, frowns. But this other does not speak, because one knows exactly what he would say if he were to speak. One merely nods, or shakes, or kicks, or gouges. And then the other – [“No one speaks there, for everyone knows what everyone else wants to say.” Eliot … [Read more...]

“Pre-Op Consultation” / A Memorable Fancy #384

     “What angle would you like your hand to be?” the surgeon asked. “I could make it look so good no one will ever guess you’re crippled until you reach for something, or I could make it strange enough to get you sidelong looks and condescension; you decide.      “Your hand won’t be able to do a few things now,” he said, “all the simple things you want to do and won’t know you can’t do until you try, hand wagging futilely in air.”      He roared and slapped his leg and winked at me and … [Read more...]

“They Told Me” / A Memorable Fancy #383

[“Might I not believe that once, without knowing it, I was taken far away from the earth – that other people even know this?” – Wittgenstein]      They told me I went to another planet and came back. They insisted on interviewing me even though I didn’t have anything to say, because an accident on re-entry had wiped out my memories – they told me. I don’t remember being on another planet. At first I thought they were pulling my leg, or playing some practical joke while watching me with a … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XV: The Tale” / A Memorable Fancy #382

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      I’ve saved telling you about the best visitor for last: the President himself, in goodly godful person, came by for a photo-op one day, preceded by Service agents pretending futilely to be Secret, bomb-sniffing lemurs, radiation detectors that however didn’t pick up the vibes the Aliens are beaming at us from Mars (so says one of us here in Ward H, who receives these vibes from the cell … [Read more...]

“‘No one believes…'” / A Memorable Fancy #381

     “No one believes that Smith personally knew that…” said the talking head. It was the inevitable “no one is saying that…” or “no one believes that…” Who is speaking for me without my consent? I did not delegate my mind to the talking head. It’s worse in a democracy, because the agreement of the people must be claimed, even if not obtained; only an authoritarian regime needn’t acknowledge the space your ideas exist in. Bill Watson concluded these thoughts with the realization that no one … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – V” / A Memorable Fancy #380

A landscaper makes decorative uses of people; he places them in masses in front of public buildings, heads cut off and stuck in pots. Millions are horrified. Pundits proclaim. Many newspapers are sold, how-did-we-come-to-this posts posted. The next day, something different happens. # There are adult-ed classes on how to deal with boredom, but they aren’t very interesting. Most of those who sign up drop out. # A world without representation – each thing is itself and not like … [Read more...]

“Tragedy” / A Memorable Fancy #379

It is an ancient time, the first time actors pretend that there is no audience. This is new. Always before, in all those past centuries, the actors declaimed toward the audience, addressed us. This new way of acting is both revolutionary and insulting. Audiences boo at it. After all, those actors are ignoring us, are saying their best lines to each other, not to us. We paid admission, so we should be acknowledged, spoken to. We are the ones, after all, who are expected to applaud. But the … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XIV: Family Visits” / A Memorable Fancy #378

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Some of us patients have families. When they come to visit on visiting day, the dayroom is where they see us: a pleasant, sunny place where the keepers can keep an eye on the crazies, keep us controlled by playing the television machine loud enough to cover up any embarrassing conversations among the patients or with their families.      So we mouth clichés at each other, at least they … [Read more...]

“The Tip” / A Memorable Fancy #377

[Scene in a diner in the manner of David Mamet. Characters are: A, an unsuccessful criminal; B, a successful criminal; and Waiter.] (A enters and sits down across a table from B) A: Fries any good here? B: Thought about our deal? A: Yeah, or I wouldn’t be here – right?                Waiter: Who had the chili? B: Maybe for the chili? A: Cut the crap. “Inside tip,” you said. B: Inside tip. Six figures. At least. A: Quite a deal.                 Waiter: Ketchup you … [Read more...]

“Clockers – II” / A Memorable Fancy #376

Sometime in their freshman History of Civilization course, college students are introduced to the idea of “clocks”; how “clocks” had been used for several centuries and then abandoned. Professor Krone patiently presents the idea of clocks; some students have a hard time grasping it. When they finally do, their admiration of the ancient times quickly dissolves. The most glaring problem with clocks, Krone explains, is that they display a different time-number each day at the same time, … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XIII: Visitor Days at the Asylum” / A Memorable Fancy #375

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      The desperate sameness and seemness and seamless texture of our lives is occasionally broken by visitors from the city: do-gooders, do-badders, and those who don’t know the difference. For example, the health inspector comes by every three months and closets himself with Doctor Wolfe and selected flunkies. I never see him actually inspect anything, but after a time he smiles and nods as he … [Read more...]

“Clockers – I” / A Memorable Fancy #374

     Berkeley the Philosopher wrote that we perceive time as regular and uniform only because God experiences everything in the proper sequence, just the right before-and-after. Why did Berkeley need this idea? To guarantee the uniformity of our earthly clocks – God as master timekeeper, divine meta-clock.      But if that’s true, then God could speed or slow time, or switch before and after back and forth, and we could never notice that He had. In fact, God himself could never notice, … [Read more...]

“Five Briefs – IV” / A Memorable Fancy #373

And we did work harder, under threat that the motivational speaker would come back and we’d have to listen to his bullshit all over again. # The boggle-gun takes aim at my mind. # John collected paintings of nudes. His pleasure was to expose himself in front of them, look for their reactions, their frowns, their disgusted gasps. Not getting any reaction, he painted clothes on them. So there. # My co-workers are aliens. Not that kind, I mean Martians or something. I can tell: … [Read more...]